When sophomore Nicholas Rheault told his science teacher Heather Hodson that he was interested in repairing the solar car that had been broken down at MAST for three years, she was more than happy to let him take on the task.
“He was a great student in my biology class and my solar class; he showed a lot of interest in repairing the car,” Hodson said.
After seeking approval from Rheault’s parents and administration, it was decided that he would take the car home over the summer to work on. With the help of Assistant Principal Michael Gould and head custodian Leon Greenawald, the car was loaded into a truck and hauled to the Rheault house, where the garage would become a workshop. The project has been a labor of love for Rheault and his entire family.
While it would have been much easier to simply convert the car to a gas guzzler and have it running in a matter of minutes, Rheault took on the challenge of making it work as a solar vehicle. “If anyone could do it I felt it was him,” Hodson said.
Rheault’s interest in science is evident when looking at his coursework; he has taken AP Environmental Science, Solar Energy, and Engineering. The cumulative knowledge gained from the various science classes he has taken has given him the foundation needed to take on this project.
The first step was to see what parts were missing and what could be salvaged from school. Rheault used as many parts as he could scavenge from Hodson’s room, and any additional parts he needed were funded out of his family’s own pocket.
“I’ve always liked cars and I think this is a good start for working on cars, eventually I want to build one that’s street legal,” Rheault said.
The repaired solar car currently goes 10 mph but is still a work in progress. With some more adjustments Rheault hopes to have the car running at 40 mph.
Rheault has plans to bring the electric car back to MAST to work on it during his solar energy class after acquiring a broken scooter. By taking parts from the scooter he hopes to be able to make more improvements to the car.
“Solar energy is like a second home to him because what he does in that class he does at home” Rheault’s brother, Benjamin said.